Sales culture vs. service culture

Sales culture vs. service culture

Does one or the other drive better results?

October 3, 2017

Credit union cultures thrive for different reasons. Some cultures lead with sales while others lead with service.

A session at the co-located CUNA Technology Council and CUNA Operations & Member Experience Conferences outlined the elements that drive both successful sales and successful service cultures at two high-functioning credit unions.

Red Canoe Credit Union’s Rod Snyder, assistant vice president, sales and branch development, and Blue Federal Credit Union’s Mel Hanes, director of learning and development, discussed how their institutions develop and maintain their respective service and sales cultures.

Their tips include:

  • Explain what “sales” means. Sales is simply a way of helping members and getting them the best product for their financial situation. “It is not selling, you’re helping,” says Snyder.
  • You need leadership buy-in. “Our CEO was 100% behind it,” says Hanes. You need a great program, but you also need great support behind it, she says.
  • Start with employee-to-employee service. Staff need to use good service with each other and across departments. The good feeling will translate to member service, says Hanes.
  • Change the way you interview people. “We had to focus our interview questions differently to find people who wanted to be held accountable for great service,” says Hanes.
  • Maintaining the culture is a challenge. “You need a structure in place to keep it going and alive,” says Snyder. You need systems to keep managers and employees accountable.

In the end, a sales culture may not be that much different than a service culture. It may just be a point of emphasis with the same goal.

“They really are the same, just different names,” says Hanes. “They are both for building relationships.”

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